Job titles are strange beasts. Two people doing the same work may have very different titles, while two people with the same title -- well, you get the picture. Quality assurance testers and analysts are in that situation. When you consider that QA people may work with software, chemicals or manufactured parts, the picture stays cloudy, but some things distinguish between the roles.
Common Job Functions
The tasks and methods used by QA analysts and testers may be identical. When a company expects a product to behave in a certain way and it doesn't, the failure occurs whether an analyst, a tester or a janitor tries to use it, though of course the QA people will have greater insight into the how and why of the failure. In chemical processes, for example, testers and analysts may conduct reactive or reagent testing under precise conditions.
The nature of the amount of work may give a clue to whether a role is that of a tester rather than analyst. In an auto parts plant, for instance, the QA person's work has a productivity measure, as in so many pieces checked an hour; she's acting as an inspector, testing parts or products for proper assembly and operation. Job performance may require a certain percentage of parts checked or a full test of parts with suspected defects. This is QA testing in action.
When a QA person tests product to discover flaws rather than to test against known problems, she's likely an analyst. Unlike a tester, she probably won't have productivity measures as part of the job, and almost certainly not an orders-per-hour metric. Another distinction between jobs may be that the analyst designs the points of testing for inspectors to check as well as perhaps spot-checking the work of the testers to ensure they've done inspections properly.
While QA people require knowledge and understanding of the products specific to the company for which they work, QA analysts are more likely to have education and specific training, such as engineering degrees or quality certifications. QA testers may combine a high school diploma and on-the-job training to perform their job functions. In companies where tester as well as analyst jobs exist, the analyst is generally the senior position and possibly in a supervisory role of the testers.
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